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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Olympia Car Accidents/Personal Injury/Criminal Defense Blog

Steve Wilkos granted entrance to diversionary program for DUI

Washington residents may have heard that Steve Wilkos, a talk show host and former security professional for "The Jerry Springer Show", flipped his vehicle in January while he was driving drunk in Connecticut. At that time, Wilkos initially claimed that he had been reaching for his glasses when he lost control of his car. However, it was later revealed that he had been driving while he was intoxicated.

Wilkos may be able to avoid having the drunk driving conviction on his record. On April 23, sources report that Wilkos was accepted into a diversion program by the court. If he is able to complete the diversion program successfully, the drunk driving accident will not be on his record.

Alleged drunk driver hides in poop bin of Washington dog breeder

Two 911 calls alerted police in Parkland to a man driving erratically, running red lights and striking multiple vehicles in the Brookdale area. A deputy located the vehicle in a 20-acre field on 52nd Avenue East. The man living there had used his tractor to keep the car that had smashed through his gate from moving again. The deputy reported that he smelled an overpowering odor of feces as he approached the car and saw feces smeared on the driver's door.

Inside the vehicle, he found an unconscious man covered in feces. The owner of the property informed the deputy that he was a dog breeder and that the driver had jumped into the bin where he placed dog poop. After confronting the intruder, the dog breeder said that the man returned to his vehicle and passed out.

Disputing Breathalyzer results

In Washington and every state in the country, a driver is presumed to be legally intoxicated if his or her blood alcohol content is .08 percent or higher. However, a police officer cannot just assume that a person is intoxicated prior to charging a driver with DUI. The officer must have proof that this is the case, and evidence can be collected using a Breathalyzer machine.

Generally speaking, the results from a Breathalyzer test can be admitted in court assuming that the machine provides an accurate result. These machines must be tested and calibrated on a regular basis to ensure that they accurately measure an individual's BAC. Furthermore, the person who uses the machine has to be able to use it properly. This could mean that an officer must be certified to use a Breathalyzer prior to testing a driver.

Vili Faulaau charged with drunk driving after accident

On Feb. 2, Vili Faulaau was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving following a car accident in Washington. The 34-year-old is the husband of former elementary school teacher Mary Kay Letourneau, who was convicted of sexually assaulting him when he was one of her students.

According to authorities, Faulaau drove his Mercury Mountaineer SUV through a red light at 1st Avenue and South 156th Street in Burien and then struck two other vehicles just before 12 a.m. The officer who responded to the crash said that Faulaau appeared dazed, had bloodshot eyes, slurred his speech and smelled like alcohol. The officer further claimed that Faulaau confessed to drinking at an area bar.

Probation allows DUI offenders to avoid jail

Washington residents who are convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can face a range of penalties. While those with several prior DUI convictions may face felony drunk driving charges, first-time offenders are generally treated more leniently. In these situations, judges forgo custodial sentences in favor of community service, probation and substance abuse counseling. Many DUI offenders must also have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles.

Individuals who are placed on probation will generally be required to report to their probation officer on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. Drunk driving offenders are usually expected to refrain from drinking or taking drugs while on probation, and judges may impose additional conditions based on the facts of the case. Probation offers offenders the opportunity to avoid incarceration, but it can be terminated quickly if offenders do not follow the rules.

License suspensions after a DUI charge or conviction

Washington motorists who are taken into custody for a DUI could be subject to a drivers license suspension. However, an individual may ask for a hearing within 20 days of the incident. If the hearing examiner upholds the appeal, the driver will keep his or her license. If the appeal is denied, the license suspension will last from 90 days to two years, and it will start 60 days after a person is taken into custody.

It is worth noting that a person who is convicted of DUI in court could still be subject to a license suspension. A suspension will last anywhere from 90 days to four years, and the length will be based on the driver's prior record as well as the severity of the crime. Drivers will receive credit for any time that their license was suspended after being taken into custody.

Lab backlog delays DUI cases

There is a significant backlog of DUI cases in Washington due to thousands of requests for blood tests for drivers accused of using drugs before driving. In 2017, the state toxicology lab, run by the Washington State Patrol, handled 15,945 cases. This figure signifies an increase of 9 percent over 2016. The number of such cases has grown by 45 percent in the previous five years.

The laboratory tests blood samples taken in DUI cases as well as handle the testing following autopsies as requested by medical examiners and coroners. While the number of cases has risen dramatically, the number of employees at the facility has not. This means that cases are delayed as testing time increases. In 2017, the median time to receive results from the lab was 45 days, and it was only 20 days in 2016.

Man arrested for DUI after hitting 2 cars

On March 2, a Washington man was taken into custody on suspicion of drunk driving. The incident took place at approximately 12:23 a.m. in Parkland.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department received a report of a hit-and-run accident outside the Parkland Manor Apartments. Witnesses said that a man had smashed his car into a parked vehicle and then drove off. After allegedly driving down the wrong side of 106 Street, he headed down Sales Road, where he crashed into a second vehicle.

Drunk drivers could face harsh consequences

Motorists who are detained on suspicion of DUI in Washington and other states may want to know more about the potential charges that could follow. Drunk driving charges may be connected to the use of alcohol, illegal substances or prescription drugs. In some situations, DUI charges are combined with manslaughter.

Many allegedly drunk drivers who are taken into custody by law enforcement officials will be charged with a felony or misdemeanor DUI. Others will find themselves facing charges of juvenile or commercial driver DUI.

Man facing felony drunk driving charges after fatal crash

A 27-year-old professional skateboarder has been charged with vehicular assault and vehicular homicide in connection with an August 2017 car accident in Washington state. The crash claimed the life of one of the man's passengers and left the other severely injured. Police say that the man was traveling at highway speeds in an area with a posted speed limit of 15 mph when he lost control of his vehicle on a curve.

According to official reports, deputies from the King County Sheriff's Office were detached to the vicinity of Thorson Road and Southwest Bank Road on Vashon Island at approximately 10:14 p.m. on August 30 after a resident called 911 to report an accident. Reports suggest that the man's vehicle came to a rest after striking two trees. A 46-year-old man who had been sitting in the front-passenger seat of the car was pronounced dead at the scene. A 26-year-old man who had been sitting in the rear of the vehicle was transported by helicopter to a trauma center in Seattle.